In Rural Roadside Field

At the age of nineteen, I moved from middle class suburbia, to living in a caravan in a roadside rural field. I had to quickly learn to make radical lifestyle adjustments – but had a happy three month solitary experience. My water needs were got in a gallon container from a Victorian cast-iron pump, on the outskirts of Mountmellick.

Each morning I had to empty out my chemical loo in a corner of the field. I hand washed my clothes and threw them over the bushes to dry. All this gave me a measure of insight into the lives of ‘Travellers”.


  • Midland nights spent all alone,

    no near neighbours, nor telephone;

    prayer exploded upwards in caravan,

    there this late-teen turned young man

    solitude was welcomed: new life plan.


    Rural darkness was curtained off,

    in distant fields the cattle coughed;

    blessed by buttery-coloured gas-light,

    pioneer bible-stories read each night;

    nineteen years old, and quite alright.


    Each morning emptied my portaloo

    – yuck! –  but what else could i do?

    Caravan home in rural roadside field

    hidden behind hedges, half-concealed;

    I prayed seated, I never kneeled.


    My water got from old hand-pump

    self-consciously, squeaky rusty sump;

    in that small, lonely caravan space

    few friends kindled my pilgrim place:

    reassuring smiles on God’s good face.


    Soon my caravan adventure ended –

    (did i mention “Traveller” horses befriended?)

    one midnight hour my dwelling rocked,

    I grabbed my torch, half-door unlocked:

    large equine eyes gazed back, equally shocked…


    photo credit:



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